Mac Properties is still trying to throw their tenants out on the street. Many tenants across the country are unable to pay their rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread unemployment, and loss of income. Those who live in Mac properties have been stonewalled in their attempts to negotiate lower, delayed, or cancelled rent. Mac and its parent company, Antheus Capital began acquiring apartments in Chicago almost 20 years ago and in that time have become fabulously wealthy. The principals are all millionaires who could afford leniency during the coronavirus crisis, and yet they refuse to provide rent relief; their only response was to assist their tenants moving, or offer some negotiations after tenants signed gag orders. Mac is even worse than most landlords because they continue to serve eviction orders, even though they won’t be enforced because the sheriff has suspended all eviction assistance. Refusal to cooperate and continued issuance of eviction orders shows us that these landlords are not on our side. Mac prioritizes their own profits over the safety and wellbeing of the thousands of Chicagoans who live in their properties.
Housing is a human right. Humans need shelter to survive; mass evictions mean that people cease being sheltered, and thus these mass evictions are a danger to the poor and working class at any time. However, these evictions become even more cruel and dangerous due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most important step to prevent the spread of the virus is to stay home as much as possible. For anyone to take this advice, they are required to have a home in which to stay. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the virus for this reason. When a private company like Mac evicts people from their homes, it creates a public health crisis for the entire community. Even when people have lost income and cannot pay, it is in the public interest to keep people sheltered as long as possible. We need more people in shelter, not fewer.
Of course, Mac is not actually evicting anyone. The Cook County sheriff has suspended eviction assistance and Governor Pritzker issued an executive order prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing eviction orders. Mac continues to issue eviction notices that will not be enforced as a show of intimidation. Even if you have been laid off or are unable to work because you have no other way to secure childcare, they believe you must be intimidated into paying your rent.
Landlords never suspend rent or evictions voluntarily, as their primary goal is to make a profit off of housing. Unfortunately the city cannot use the legal system for renter relief either. In 1997 the state passed the Rent Control Preemption Act, outlawing any form of rent control in the state of Illinois. This includes rent freezes during the pandemic. The city’s hands are tied; only the state can lift the ban on rent control and provide real relief through the legal system. Unfortunately, Governor Pritzker still refuses to act and rent is due—again. So renters must win leniency from their property managers and owners. Mac, and other real estate companies, must provide relief to their renters instead of casting hundreds or thousands of people out into the streets.
Mac is a corporate landlord owned by Antheus Capital, and their (since deleted) website used to advertise that gentrification was a key element of their business model. If this is their goal they seem to have succeeded—home prices in Hyde Park have more than doubled since Mac began reinvesting there, and the executives of Mac are paid in the millions to maintain this gentrifying company. This would be bad enough, but the Chicago taxpayer foots the bill for Mac to gentrify our community. Mac received an $11 million subsidy to build an apartment complex in Hyde Park, more than 10% of the total cost, and said at the hearing that they would pursue abatements on paying sales tax on raw materials to reduce costs even more. Mac takes money from the city and dodges taxes to achieve their goal of gentrifying our home.
July is coming, and there is still no relief for Mac tenants. Mac must offer to sit down with tenants and offer leniency, or people will be thrown onto the street. If you are a Mac tenant looking to organize your building, email MacTenantsUnited at gmail dot com to get involved. If you are a tenant in a different building looking to organize, fill out this form. If you are a supporter, get involved in the campaign to lift the ban on rent control so we can force bad landlords to provide relief. Mac and other corporate landlords are gentrifying our city and denying housing with impunity. We must fight back.